Our company CEO approached me one day with what was then an unusual request. One of his business associates — a board member at Penn-Mar Human Services – had inquired if there might be some job opportunities in our company for a person with a disability who was looking for a part-time work experience.
I had never worked with a person with a disability so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when we finally set up an interview with Jimmy Dietrich, a resident at Penn-Mar who had a desire to leverage his hands-on skills into a paying job.
Our company, Brothers Services Company, is one of Maryland’s top roofing and residential remodeling companies. Based in Hampstead, we have been repairing, updating and improving tens of thousands of homes in Maryland for over three decades.
I found Jimmy to be very engaging and polite during our first encounter, well-prepared for our interview. We offered Jimmy a three-day-a-week position with very specific tasks that he was qualified to do and knew that he would be successful doing. When I explained what I thought would be a good fit for him he seemed very interested and we hired him a few days later.
When Jimmy arrives each work day, he knows where to start and what needs to be accomplished. He also knows that I and my assistant Brandon are always available for any questions he may have.
Once on-site he runs a roller magnet throughout the parking lot to pick-up any nails or fasteners that could have fallen off the work trucks when they pulled in the night before. His job is to prevent flat tires when the crews get ready to leave each morning for their assignments. He then makes a second pass with a broom around the lot and dumpsters to ensure that any hazardous items or trash are disposed of.
Once inside the warehouse, Jimmy will take a break, socialize with his co-workers, and then work with Brandon to review his TO DO list for the day, pulling tickets for the next day’s job orders, stocking materials, breaking down boxes, and prepping job signs, whatever the crews need to hit the ground running. His help with these details frees us up to work on other projects and keeps things moving in a timely, orderly fashion.
Jimmy is a real “people person.” He brings a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to his job and enjoys socializing with his co-workers. The employees don’t think of him as a person with a disability but would never ask him to do something he is not able to do.
It has been very interesting to see how well he relates to our workforce. They know he gives 110 percent to whatever the task is at hand. He is dedicated to his job and a real joy to work with. His presence here motivates all of our employees.
I feel it’s important for me to share our successful experience with hiring and working with a person with a disability. I encourage other employers to give it a chance. Obviously you have to match the job duties to the person’s skills and the extent of their disability. And if that first job experience doesn’t work out, maybe there is another area in the company that would be a better fit.
People with disabilities offer a much needed and deserving workforce who are trained, motivated and ready to help and enhance your business culture.